Look Down – or Look Up?

lesmis1Look down, look down
You’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You’re standing in your grave

– “Look Down,”
Les Miserables: The Motion Picture Soundtrack, © 2012

I’m not a movie person. At all. I can count on one hand the movies I would ever want to watch more than once.

Les Miserables is one of those movies.

Because the message of the movie penetrates deeper than the tragic historical storyline and majestic Broadway orchestration.

It penetrates to the heart of society – of humanity – itself.

And its message resounds yet today.
Even in small town America.

The opening scene of Les Miserables reveals those imprisoned in manual labor camps for their crimes – some large, some small. They are stripped of their personhood, name, identity, dignity, and future.

Slaves to the State, many are doomed to a lifetime of harsh servitude.

Yet they still exhibit glimpses of memory, anticipation and desire–
until the harshness of their fate eventually erodes even the faintest glimmers of hope from their eyes and their hearts.

21st century America isn’t that different.

Because without Christ, we are all slaves to sin and doomed to a life of servitude to its desires.

“Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” John 8:34a (NKJV)
“You were slaves to sin.” Rom. 6:17 (NKJV)

What characterizes the life of a slave?


The consequences of slavery are vast. And in the West, we view slavery with abhorrence. We outlaw it. We protest it.

And rightly so.

But if we are so passionate about abolishing physical slavery, I wonder…

Where is the urgency about abolishing spiritual slavery?

We walk amongst a people every day who are even more bound and fettered than the prisoners on the boat in the opening scene of Les Miserables. 

They are bound by addictions.
They are bound by regret.
They are bound by pride.
They are bound by hatred.

It is as though the crowds around us, every moment of every day, could join in Les Miserable’s haunting opening chorus:

Look down, look down, you’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down, you’re standing in your grave

And they are.
And we are.

But God.

“Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin…[but if] you…know the truth…the truth shall make you free. [And] if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:32, 34, 36 (NKJV)


The slave to sin says look down.
The child of God says look up.

The slave to sin says you’ll always be a slave.
The child of God says you’ll always be a son or daughter.

The slave to sin says you’re standing in your grave.
The child of God says there is an empty grave.

We have the hope. We have the answer.

Physical slavery in America was abolished in 1865.
Now it’s time to wage an assault on spiritual slavery.

Will you join me?



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